Originally published in Marshalltown Community School District newsletter.
Tana M. Llinas followed her passion by tapping into her artistic creativity, which has led to success in the business world. Llinas is a 1998 graduate of Marshalltown High School, where she was known then as Tana Martin. She now is the owner and creative director for Brand Poets, a boutique brand design agency based in Miami and Los Angeles. Her main advice to the younger generation is to follow something with fervor.
"Go all in," she said. "Identify what you're passionate about, then make everything you do all about that passion."
She also indicated those business connections with someone in the field can be invaluable for the future.
"Find a mentor in that field, get an internship alongside her or him, then listen and learn," she said.
Time in Marshalltown
Tana has fond memories of her time at MHS where her mother Alix taught. She participated in soccer and volleyball in high school and also remembers time spent in the community at Ev's ice cream shop, Crosby Pool, the Y and sledding down the St. Henry's hill. Her parents still live in Marshalltown where her father, Bill Martin, serves on the Marshalltown City Council.
Managing a design agency
In her role as a business owner and creative director, Tana manages creative staff but also has to keep tabs on the overall financial health of the company. "I pitch new business, negotiate contracts, and watch the bottom line to make sure our agency is growing," Llinas said.
But she didn't get there overnight. She earned her graphic design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and also worked in design for years before starting Brand Poets.
"I always knew I wanted to be in the creative world, but I knew I had to support myself doing it," Llinas said. "So I went to art school and found myself several amazing business mentors early on, which pushed me to understand the value of my work and how to manage a team."
She still gets a kick out of seeing a logo she designed on a billboard or T-shirt while she's out in public. She also knows success can mean different things to different people.
"Success is personal," she said. "I measure success on having stability of work, great projects, an amazing team and a healthy family."